Rumors Swirl Around Over MBS Fate After Month-Long Disappearance: Where Is He?

Published May 28th, 2018 - 12:43 GMT
Mohammed Bin Salman, the 23-year-old de-facto power in Saudi Arabia did not make any public appearance since April 12, 2018. (Al Bawaba/ Rami Khoury)
Mohammed Bin Salman, the 23-year-old de-facto power in Saudi Arabia did not make any public appearance since April 12, 2018. (Al Bawaba/ Rami Khoury)

The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, known also as MBS, has been absent on the public stage since the shooting incident near the royal palace at Riyadh in April 21, raising several speculations over his fate.

His latest public appearance was in April 12, during a visit to Spain. However, rumors that he might got injured during the royal palace shooting were unstoppable.

The media in Iran, which is Saudi Arabia’s bitter rival, was the first to circulate rumors over MBS death, when Keyhan newspaper, reported that MBS had disappeared for three weeks, raising questions over his death. In the report, the newspaper claimed it obtained a copy of a report by an Arab intelligence apparatus that MBS could have been shot by two bullets and it raises the possibility that he is dead.

A few days later, the UK-based newspaper, the Observer, had reported speculating Bin Salman’s death or injury in the royal palace shooting incident, although the Saudi government announced it was a security forces shooting down a toy drone that came close to the palace.

However, no Saudi officials took to the media to debunk the rumors.

On the hashtag: “ولي_العهد_مصاب_أو_متوفى” translates to: “Crown Prince Injured or Dead." The topic captured the imagination of social media users who went to begin a war on the topic. Some of them argued for his death while others hoped he was actually killed.

Kristian Ulrichsen, a Baker Institute fellow for the Middle East, tweeted:

Translation: “Why the Crown Prince had disappeared since the shooting incident?”

One of the prominent News Anchors in the Middle East, who currently works for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, tweeted also questioning the disappearance of MBS:

Translation: “A legitimate question after his absence took too long: Where is the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman? Did any of you saw any recent videos for him, not footages?”

On the other hand, other users went to hope that MBS is actually dead since he has been raising controversy over his amendments and internal and foreign policies.

Alyaa Gad, the Arab-Swiss activist tweeted another point claiming that there are internal conflicts inside the Saudi royal family which prevents them from announcing his death, in addition to diverting people’s attention by the latest arrests for Saudi women and activists.

Referring to the latest arrests of female rights advocates in Saudi Arabia who were accused of organized activities to beat the religious and national basis and communication with foreign affairs. The arrests raised concerns over the recent reforms made in the Kingdom by the controversial Crown Prince.

The 23-year-old crown prince has several reforms in the conservative country, including regulations restricting the powers of the religious police, and the removal of the ban on female drivers earlier in 2017. However, his policies toward neighbouring countries have been questioned following an intervention in Yemen and escalating diplomatic crisis with Qatar.

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